All About Yolks
According to the NC Egg Association, “Yolk color depends on the hen’s diet.” The more yellow-orange plant pigments, the deeper the color. When hens eat mostly wheat or barley their yolks are lighter.
What about those double yolks? This usually happens when the egg is produced by a young hen whose cycle is not synchronized with the other chickens. A while back when all fat in foods was a public enemy #1, egg yolks were getting a bad reputation. Today we know that fats are essential in our diet and healthy fats are beneficial. Eggs Yolks have most of the vitamins including A,D,E and K and contain more calcium, copper, iron, manganese, phosphorus, selenium and zinc than the white and only a little less than half the protein. The protein from one egg equals that of 1 ounce of lean meat.
Getting the Grade
Eggs are Graded on a scale from AA to B. So what is the difference?
- AA graded eggs are the best. They are the ones to use if you want a more uniform fried or poached egg.
- A graded eggs are mostly what we see in the supermarkets. The whites are a little thinner so they spread out in weird shapes in a frying pan and drift away from the yolk when poaching
- B graded eggs are rarely sold in supermarkets and are mostly used in commercial baking and egg products.
According to the American Egg Board, most eggs are shipped within 1 to 3 days of a hen laying the egg on a farm. You can keep eggs in the refrigerator for 3-5 weeks. Eggs that are kept at room temperature will degrade much quicker at a rate equal to 1 week refrigerated. 1 day = 1 week
Europe has been domesticating birds since 600 BC. China and Egypt have records dating back to 1400 BC that show birds were producing eggs for human consumption. East Indian historians believe that wild birds were domesticated as early as 3200 BC. How did they get to America? Well, like everything else in the fifteenth century, chickens came by boat. Source: American Egg Board
The Business of Eggs
On average, each laying hen produces 294 eggs per year. As Americans, we are consuming more of them than ever before. Per capita consumption of eggs has increased by over 16 percent in the past 20 years. Source: United Egg Producers
According to Eggs Feed America, the total economic impact on the United States is $29.3 billion. In North Carolina the impact is over 1.7 billion. According to the USDA, North Carolina ranks 8 out of the top ten in egg production. The average wages of those working in the industry are $58,000.
Types of Eggs
Chicken eggs are the most common, however, duck eggs and quail eggs are sold in many supermarkets across the United States. We have a neighbor who raises both and supplies us with these eggs often.
Duck eggs are basic, meaning they are alkaline-based versus chicken eggs which are acidic-based. Some say there are health benefits to eating alkaline balanced foods. I am not a health or nutritional professional so I can not speak directly to that. I, however, do look at the nutritional values that are a matter of fact and recognized by the USDA.
Cooking with Eggs
Hard Boiling Eggs
The trick to an easy-peel egg is to not use the freshest eggs you have. Instead, reach for eggs that are at least one week old. Then boil the water first and gently lower the egg with a slotted spoon. Once cooked immerse the egg into ice-cold water until chilled. To peel tap it on both sides and insert a spoon between the shell and the membrane to lift the shell right off. Repeat this process until all the shell is removed. I also recommend rinsing the spoon and egg in the cold water, this makes it easier to peel and rinses away any loose pieces of the shell.
We love them all and have some favorite ways to prepare them. If you like hard boiled eggs, all of them are good prepared this way but because of the different sizes you will need to adjust cooking times to accommodate the size of the egg you are working with.
How long does it take to hard boil each type of egg?
- Duck eggs typically take 12-13 minutes from the time the water is in a full rolling boil.
- Chicken eggs being a bit smaller need less time for an extra-large chicken egg I would suggest boiling for 11 minutes
- Quail Eggs are so tiny they cook much quicker4- 5 minutes is more than enough time for a hard-boiled quail egg.
Soft Boiling Eggs
You want to make sure you have a firm white with any soft boiled egg.
- Duck Eggs are typically 8 minutes for a soft boiled egg with a runny yolk.
- Chicken eggs can be soft boiled in as little as 6 minutes
- Quail eggs 2 minutes and 15 seconds- to 3 minutes.
Of course scrambled, fried and poached are also great ways to eat them.
Other uses for Duck Eggs
We have found that substituting duck eggs for chicken eggs sometimes can alter the flavor of some foods. For example I do not like my chocolate chip cookies or brownies made with duck eggs. I did recently make an amazing lemon curd utilizing the yolks of duck eggs and I would definitely recommend this to you. Perhaps it had to do with the acid in the lemon balancing with the alkaline of the duck egg. I understand that using the whites of the duck egg can also make a marvelous meringue.
Other Uses for Quail Eggs
I like a little quail egg dropped on top of just about anything. My favorite is on top of grits with a bit of crumbled sausage. But why not drop over asparagus or a burger?
I know Easter has passed but you can color these eggs and they come out so pretty. Try this next year for a change of pace. Kids love quail eggs since they are kid sized and perfect for their tiny hands.
Scotch eggs are a treat for some and can be made with quail eggs so you just can pop them in your mouth. Great finger food for a tailgate or party.
Do you have a favorite egg recipe? How about Bearnaise Sauce or Custard or Egg Salad? Eggs in soups are very popular in many cultures. My chef friend, Preeti Waas who makes the most incredible Indian food. prepared this wonderful rice dish called congee with eggs on top of it. The fattiness of the egg yolk made the dish much richer Regardless of which eggs you choose or how you decide to eat them hopefully you learned how versatile and delicious they are.